Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Google it.  Here are a couple of starters about this Swedish preschool which has embarked on its own vision of gender neutrality.  I'm sure you'll be seeing more about this, once Jon Stewart or Fox News or one of the other fake news organisations picks up the story.

I wasn't sure what I'd see when I heard about this school.

One person quoted in the first article is particularly idiotic, but I understand.  You have to have balance, even if the other side has nothing intelligent to say:

Jay Belsky, [is] a child psychologist at the University of California, Davis. [....] “The kind of things that boys like to do — run around and turn sticks into swords — will soon be disapproved of,” he said. “So gender neutrality at its worst is emasculating maleness.”

Yes, boys do gravitate toward certain behaviour.  Girls gravitate toward different behaviours.  But some boys and girls, as we know, will yearn to do what is 'inappropriate' for their gender and will be discouraged from doing so.  I think this school will help those girls who want to push trucks down the road as well as boys who want to be princess-for-a-day.  This is a good thing, especially for the boys.  Normally, the girl would be discouraged but tolerated.  The boy will be ridiculed and humiliated.

The rest of the Egalia children just might grow up with a fuller appreciation of people and life in general.  Isn't that the goal of a liberal arts education?  A well-rounded individual?  What's wrong with starting at age one?

But the thing that brands Belsky as completely clueless is the second half of his statement.  He decides what will happen in the future (the boys' behaviour will be disapproved of) and takes this imaginary prescience to what he thinks is its logical conclusion.

I think Belsky formed his opinion after taking Thomas Berger too seriously.


  1. Be careful when excessively dogmatic adherence to rigid liberal ideology clouds an ability to be tolerant to all...enen those with whom you disagree.

    Jon Stewart very quickly and glibly claimed that he was doing comedy rather than using his platform to advance any political views. That is a fine but blurry line.

    I went to a very liberal, liberal arts school that had little tolerance for any opposing points of view. I still find it interesting that liberals and libertarians are sometimes confused with each other.

    Dogmatic insistance on genderless references can be as intolerant as forcing people to adhere to strict and rigid gender catagories, especially with children. Afford them tolerance, freedom and liberty to express their individual talents and traits. I do like to think that we are all too experienced to be fooled by the concept of "one size fits all".


  2. Regiment of Women -I read that in the 70's

  3. Pat ~ I saw no evidence in that article (or the others I've seen) that anything is forced on anyone. It didn't say that he/she wasn't allowed ~ it said that the gender-neutral pronoun was used for people who were visiting and they didn't know what they were. For others, it said they "avoided" pronouns.

    I admit, the bookshelf description bothered me a bit ~ I don't know the facts, but they made it sound like EVERY book was about atypical families. I kind of doubt that. It's easy to imagine, if that's the case, kids from "traditional" families would feel like outsiders, and I expect they'd work hard to avoid that.

    Classroom experiments have shown that if the kids are segregated by some random feature (say, eye colour), they'll happily split into cliques based on that difference. I think the school is helping to teach that children who come from atypical families, or who act in ways not expected by us adults, are the same as they are.

  4. Unfortunately, I suspect Belsky is correct that standard stereotypical male behavior will be discouraged, because it already is. Many schools prohibit running on the playground during recess because it can be dangerous; most enforce a kind of sedentary learning style that is not normal for boys; games and activities that rely on strength (dodgeball, for instance) are banned, while those that rely on skill and coordination (hopscotch, jump rope) are encouraged.

    As the father of two boys, I saw this all the time.


  5. Remember, Dani, this is not about the US. I'd want to learn more before I assumed, which is what Belsky did. He laid his assumptions about the culture he knew on a different culture.

    (btw, nice outfit)

  6. As a New Yorker I have been known to quip that I come from a 'mixed marriage'..."my wife is a Mets fan". Like north side/south side Chicago, New Yorkers are expected to pick sides... Yankees/Mets... Giants/Jets... Knicks/Nets. My kids recognized this early on and in my presence they were Yankee fans but with their mother it was "Lets go Mets".

    My point is that children are maleable and will often conform their behavior and opinions to peacefully co-exist with their environments. Total exposusre to a super macho environment or super feminine environment will be noted by the child as appropriate behavior. The exposure that these kids had is quite contrary to several societal norms and my concern is that they will think that the atypical family structures that they were exposed to were superior.

    In my view exposure to the widest and most diverse spectrum of interests and activities may permit the child to gravitate to that which he or she has an interest in and in which he may excell.

    In some quarters in the US there is great pressure put on kids to get an education. That is as much of an erroneous belief as the concept of 'one size fits all pantyhose'. I had cousins who were forced to go to college. They did not do well. They had other talents. These two guys never made it in the business world but turned out to be outstanding tradesmen, carpenters. You know that I am a computer luddite. If you put a hammer or other tool in my hand be very afraid. I can do more damage with a simple wrench than the entire Afghan army.

    Basically, different strokes for different folks. Tolerance for all seems to be the way to go rather than full immersion in a monolithic belief.

  7. Pat ~ if this is an argument against the Egalia approach, I don't see it.

    Kids from "traditional" homes will get an opportunity to see that there are happy, healthy, normal relationships that are different. If they see enough of those, they'll not be aware that one is less prevalent. A child stares at a missing limb here; probably not so much in war zone countries.

    Kids from non-traditional homes will meet plenty of kids at school with plain old boring mom and dad.

    I'm more worried about the overuse of "friends." I'm particular about who I call friend. I have a few friends, more acquaintances, co-workers, neighbors. And a tiny handful of people I love.

    (an aside ~ you had a GREAT typo, especially in context: "children are maleable" [male-able?] :D )

  8. may have been a copy editor in a past life.

    I agree with the over use of "friends". I do not see it as a catch all phrase. I always felt that the old communist attempt at using the term 'Comrade' as a 'one size fits all' catagory was contrived and I am glad that some forms of diversity are coming to those old regimes.


  9. Good choice of opening word, Pat.

    Not a copy editor. More like a grammar nazi. :)


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